Friday, December 31, 2010

Adieu 2010


Wishing you all a very happy, healthy 2011.

Anecdote:
Murray Dodge is a building in Princeton housing the Office of Religious Life, the Muslim prayer room and a basement cafe serving free cookies from 10:30pm till midnight. I spent many blissful hours in Murray Dodge and for some it kept popping into my mind today... There's a women's toilet on the first floor and it had a hand-written sign that read:

"If you sprinkle while you tinkle, please be sweet and wipe the seat"

:)

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

My Arranged cum Love Marriage: 6 Month Update


Mr. F and I were working for the same organization, we "met" at work and I was indirectly reporting to him. He interviewed me for my current position. Yet, when people ask about the "story", he's quick to respond, "We were introduced through friends!" riiiiight :-P

True, a mutual colleague did broach the rishta topic with my parents but all-in-all, neither of us was averse to the idea either. And, as I'm quick to point out to Mr. F, he did the approaching/initiating so it wasn't one of the "parents show girl's photo to guy, he nods in agreement scenarios... "

So, six months later, I think we've worked through a lot of issues, grown as people (I think I've grown more... I was the rather naive, ditzy type :-p) and learned to compromise :) (Mr's done more in this domain). I'm also learning to be more "dignified" and slowly coming to realize that everything I do, each decision I make will affect another person for better or worse. A sense of humor helps :)

Cases in point:

- I turn off my morning alarm and go to sleep... Mr. F and I both come in to work late :p
- I forget where I parked the car... Mr. F and I are both in the parking lot looking for our car and trying to avoid getting bitten by stray dogs after a long day at work (he's cursing under his breath at this point but doesn't say anything aloud for which I am grateful)
- He asks me to iron his red shirt, I iron his crimson shirt and the electricity promptly goes. Apparently, that was the wrong shirt... we're both late for the party :P. In future dear husband, please specify the exact shade of red to avoid confusion.

Iraday jin kay pukhta hon, nazr jin ki khuda per ho

Our CEO's in London and so, everyone's been coming in to work late and leaving at 5:30 pm on the dot :-P. It's true, when the cat's away... lol.

Today, I went to meet Mr. N at PSO house. We're looking into jatropha cultivation and we'd basically gone to get some advice concerning our business model... It would be great if Pakistan could become the next Jatropha nation, the plant is sturdy, grows on marginal land and perhaps most importantly, it doesn't compete with other food crops. It's sad that our Government's so slow to take on new initiatives. Pakistan also missed the CER boat while China and India have made millions :-(. Lesson learnt: when opportunity knocks, you need to be ready to take advantage of it...

On a positive note, the new Atrium cinemas are open! Mr. F took me to a special screening of Tees Maar Khan thanks to his friend who got us free passes. They're also offering Pakistan's first 3-D cinema experience (will be screening Avatar). Do check it out!





Friday, December 24, 2010

December


As December draws to a close, Karachiites are overwhelmed by the frenzy of weddings... Shaadi-hopping is a favorite past-time in a nation where food and clothes are an essential part of culture. Shaadis give us chance to indulge, showing off our latest outfits and eating until our waistbands begin to feel uncomfortably tight.

We had a farewell for our cherished colleague Z today. It was a rather emotional affair... will miss him.

Finally turned in all my grad school applications (third round in as many years). Hoping and praying that I get in somewhere good inshalah...

Have yourself a very Merry Christmas!

cheers!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

For You


It's been exactly a year since you put the ring on my finger, a shiny diamond announcing to the world that we were "officially" together. I remember you calling me right before your family came over asking if I was ok, if I was nervous... That was sweet :)

At that time, I wasn't in love... I barely knew you, and didn't trust you, yet, I'd agreed to spend the rest of my life with you. I'm still not quite sure what made me say "yes". We were world's apart in terms of our personalities, our family backgrounds, age, culture... even our mother tongue wasn't the same but we shared common experiences, having studied in the US and then returned to Pakistan. Now is probably a good time to admit that I did have a crush on you. I admired your leadership, conviction, intelligence and forthrightness and the ability to get along with all kinds of people. Sitting 10 feet across from you at work, I could hear you on the phone, hear your laugh. I had to walk past your office every morning and I'd debate about whether to say "Salam" or "Good Morning" or just ignore you completely. I'd try to come to work early so I wouldn't have to decide what to say... because I'd be thinking about you even when I wasn't.

I fondly remember our chaperoned "dates". The chaperon being my 12-year old sister :P. I was extremely awkward in the beginning... I'd blush when you'd look at me but gradually, I came to accept the relationship. I felt comfortable taking my place in the front seat of your car and having you pay for our weekly dinner date. I also appreciated your restraint, in not touching me until after the wedding even though it was a difficult six months for you... :-P

Fast-forward to our six-month wedding anniversary and I can say, yes, I am in "love"... perhaps not in the mushy, sentimental way they show in the movies (though I do feel that way at times), but you are a part of my life now. It's natural waking up next to you, eating from the same plate (gross I know!), having a breakdown and weeping down your fresh t-shirt (sorry!). I also appreciate the little gestures that make me feel special: parking the car a certain way so I don't have to reverse all the way out, making sure bills and groceries are taken care of, taking me out for a McFlurry just because I don't feel like regular food and spoiling me with classy, thoughtful gifts. You do make me feel like a princess :)

Thank you with all my heart.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

My 10-Word Memoir for 2010

Got engaged, Thar Coal, born-again Pakistani (:)), married life, Punjab

What yours?!

Post-Marriage Travel


Since the wedding, I've been to Thailand (for the honeymoon) and then made frequent short trips to Lahore. My travel style has changed. I used to be a (somewhat :)) responsible adult... Carried my own bags, kept track of my passport and luggage and made sure I got onto the right plane at the right time. Now, I'm usually just standing by or sitting while the husband "takes charge" and stands in line while I get to rest/amuse myself at the airport shops :p.

Travel does tend to change a person... and it's hard for others to relate to the experiences if they haven't done something similar. When I came back from the US and Abu Dhabi, as clichéd as it sounds, I learned to see things in a different way and it was hard for others to see where I was coming from.

Between spouses though, it could create a permanent, specially if one travels a lot and the other doesn't... ?

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Fate

London Heathrow closed down due to inclement weather over the weekend, lots of flights were delayed or cancelled and now dear Mr. F is stuck there until Emirates decides to put him on a plane... Guess I'm not the only one with airport "adventures" :-p

Earlier this year, right before the wedding, an ash cloud descended over Europe. The husband was in Germany at the time but luckily it cleared and he managed to make it back in time... Right before the wedding, I was in Dubai and Cyclone Phet struck Karachi. My plane turned around and went all the way back to Dubai :P

The weekend was lovely :") It's great being back at home, listening to Rihanna and acting wacky with the siblings. We went to Sandspit, collected seashells and ate yummy greasy garlic-mayo fries :).

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

'Tis the Season


As 9th and 10th Muharram approaches, Karachi is slowly shutting down. All the major roads and markets are being patrolled by police vehicles. The city resembles a war zone and to and outsider, it would seem rather terrifying.

I'm looking forward to the long weekend although it will be pretty quiet. I'll probably try making this :). Another colleague turned in his resignation letter today...! Must be the season. I'm living off chocolate and hot milky coffee and acquiring tummy tires in the process :-P

Climate talks concluded in Cancun this week but they haven't received too much media attention... I guess most of us are actually hoping for a bit of warming this winter rather than worrying about cutting down CO2 emissions.

Stay safe homies ;)

Monday, December 13, 2010

Hiatus


What with one thing or another, I've been on blogging break... Mr. F's gone to London for a week and I'm staying at my old home. At least sister dear is excited to have "Apa" to stay... :)

I'm turning into a sloth and I've been down with sniffles and the flu... Karachiites really can't handle winter :p. On Friday, we had a team-building event at the beach :) and Mr. F left early next day... We played beach pictionary and I designed an obstacle course and a treasure hunt as part of the team-building activities... Thankfully, it went well with no major glitches.

I'm surprisingly relaxed and at peace alhamdulilah... I thought I'd be miserable with the husband away but I'm actually enjoying the break... lol!



WTF of the Day

Colleague YH: "My wife isn't feeling well today so I think I'll go home early..."
Gaia: "Okay, take some flowers for her... it'll cheer her up :)"
YH: "Good idea! Guys never think of things like that... lesbian couples must be so happy... knowing exactly what their significant other wants..."
Gaia: ":-0"

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Busy, busy, busy

and I'm loving it :) I hate sitting idle and having nothing to do and nerdy as it sounds, I get a high writing personal statements for grad school. So the US Embassy people are being lazy and still haven't returned my passport! I emailed them a couple of weeks back as I needed my passport to take the GRE and I'm still waiting for them to respond :-(

Alhamdulilah, I'm sort of settling into married life and getting used to "us" instead of "me" (and it definitely took me a while getting used to the idea!!!).

Mr. F and I are having "discussions" as to whether or not I should change my name post-marriage... I personally don't want to, I like my name and I'm quite happy being me but I have a feeling I'll eventually capitulate if it means a lot to Mr. F. Also, I don't think he'll enjoy being called Mr. and Mrs. Gaia on wedding invitation cards ;)


Thursday, November 25, 2010

Office Blues

These days, mornings are slightly chilly and I've turned into a sloth :(. I set my alarm for 8:35 am (it's the bugle on the Nokia E5) and press snooze until Mr. F politely informs me that he's ready to leave... Then, I jump out of bed, put on some clothes and proceed to do my hair and makeup in the car which irritates my poor husband no end...

Since I'm still without a supervisor, work is pretty slow. I'm mostly surfing the net and finishing up grad school applications. Here's the essay question for Kennedy School: "Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country" (I need to write a 1,000 words for it... any suggestions would be most welcome :)).

Since the only other females in the office are on leave, I have no one to eat lunch with :(. A new girl will be joining in Jan but she'll be reporting to Mr. F... majorly awkward! She can't bitch about her boss to me (which is what most people do during lunch and I can't be myself either). Plus, they'll be traveling together, working on fun projects while I'm bored at work (ok, so maybe I'm a little jealous).

Have a great weekend!


Monday, November 22, 2010

Thanksgiving


Back to work after a glorious week in Lahore *sigh*

The mornings were lovely... crisp, fresh weather, clear skies and sunshine filtered through ancient banyan and oak trees. Mr. F's family home is in Cannt. The house is over 150 years old and some parts are falling into disrepair but the grounds are beautiful! There are lemon trees and lime trees, vegetable patches (lettuce, spinach, mint and various herbs), rose bushes and clementines. The lemons had just begun to ripen and turn yellow, so each morning, my 8-year old niece would collect the fallen lemons in a basket and we'd make lemonade with lots and lots of sugar :)

My step-mother-in-law taught me how to make doodh patti. I've never been a tea drinker but I've grown to like this particular version. Evening were usually spent shopping, sightseeing and entertaining with the family. One of my nephews is older than me and two brothers-in-law are younger so family dynamics are interesting... lol. I guess I'm the cool bahu/bhabi/mami/chachi from Karachi who listens to Lady Gaga and Rihanna and has gora friends :)

One of my friends from Princeton was visiting over Eid so we had fun showing him around. He's white from Nashville, Tennessee but moved to Kabul after graduation so he's familiar with Muslim culture. I think he managed to see more of Lahore than I have, including a Pappu Sain concert at Baba Shah Jamal. He came over for Eid dinner and all the kids wanted to shake hands with him :)

It's good to be back though! I can be my casual, unkempt self in baggy pajamas and t-shirt and Karachi weather's turned pleasant.

Have a great week y'all and Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Grad School Applications

Ana lazy jiddan jiddan! When it comes to writing personal statements, sample policy memos and studying for the GRE, I'd rather do the dishes, iron my clothes, clean out the cupboard or watch Golmaal 3 :o Please dear God, let me be done with it by the end of today.

I've lost some of my ambition/drive post-marriage and yes, it's mostly my fault. It's easy to settle into a routine and "go with the flow". Previously, I could plan for the future, quit my job or travel to Poland without my decision impacting anyone else... now, I feel a slight twinge of guilt (?)

Yesterday, Mr. F took me shopping :) It was sort of what I imagined married life would be like... having a guy carry my bags while I spend his money :p. Tonight inshalah, we'll leave for Lahore and I'll get to wear winter boots and socks and my Princeton hoodie :)

Friday, November 12, 2010

Local Lahori Recipes

I'll inshalah be going to Lahore for Eid! I'm supposed to "cook" proper desi food. So, to all you people from Lahore or Kashmir or with roots in Punjab, what are some decent dishes? Simple, easy and yummy recipes would be appreciated :)


Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Casual Relationships


So, I've been having interesting conversations with people (aged 22-32) regarding their views on casual relationships (as opposed to being in a committed relationship). Basically what this entails is getting to know someone for a short-term relationship, sleeping with them and then moving on, no strings attached. The rules of the game are made clear right at the beginning. Most of these people are successful in their careers, make decent money and consider themselves morally righteous. Eventually they would like to settle down with "the one" and live happily ever after, meanwhile there's no harm in having some fun.

My questions to you dear readers are:
1. Would you reveal to your future spouse/significant other that you've ahem... done the rounds?
2. If yes, would you spill the beans pre-engagement? post-marriage?
3. Would you be comfortable with your spouse/significant other having similar experience?
4. Can you still be "friends" with someone after having been bed-buddies?

Friday, November 5, 2010

Happy Diwali 2010

Wishing you all Happy Diwali! Enjoy the meethas :)

Love,

Gaia

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Happy Spirit :)


I really don't understand how women's minds work (mine included). On my birthday, Mr. F surprised me with flowers, chocolate and Happy Spirit...

I was pleasantly surprised because Mr. F's family doesn't celebrate birthdays and especially not past the age of 10 so he'd made a special effort for me. Next day, I was ill with fever and flu and was generally "down" but went to work and had a normal day, came home and crashed...

Started missing mommy and chicken soup and wanted attention but Mr. F went to sleep! So (and yes, I am a spoiled brat), I threw a tantrum and wept my heart out... Mr. F mumbled something, patted my head and continued sleeping!! For some reason this made me super angry (poor Mr. F who'd done nothing to deserve this...) and I responded with silent treatment and being really loud (think: ringing alarm clock, slamming doors etc.) to get Mr. F to wake up but it didn't work.

I eventually cried myself to sleep (*insert sheepish look here*). Next day was pretty awkward... I'd been bad but couldn't figure out how to make up for it and restore peace. A penitent kiss worked and thankfully, all's well.



Sunday, October 24, 2010

Lahore for the Weekend!


Chilly mornings, sunny afternoons, foggy evenings. New family, new friends, good food... I'm falling in love with Lahore :)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Aunty Party


Yesterday, Mr. F and I attended a company dinner at our CEO's house. I was there as "the spouse" :-p

It so happens, whenever I plan ahead for an event (outfit, make-up, hair, jewelry etc.), everything that can possibly go wrong, does. There was no electricity, so I ended up having to go to my parents' house to iron my clothes, didn't have time to dry my sopping wet hair and thanks to violence in the city, the bank closed early so I couldn't get my jewelry :-(

Still, we managed to be there on time. Mr. F sat in the drawing room with the men while I was escorted to the ladies' section... I was easily the youngest person there, everyone else was an aunty with kids in college; some even had grandchildren! They were all sophisticated aunties though... clad in elegant saris and beautiful jewelry :)

After indulging in polite small talk, the aunty I was sitting next to drawled:
"Beta, it's hot today isn't it?"
Gaia: nods in agreement, "Jee, it's very still outside... there's no wind"
Aunty 1: "Thank God, I thought my hormones were acting up again... you know? I thought I was getting hot flashes..."
Gaia: :O :oO

The conversation revolved around kids, family, pampers, college admissions, the moral degradation of society, maasis and cooks and the merits of Nixor vs. KGS vs. CAS...

I feel old!



Sunday, October 17, 2010

Weekend


On Friday evening we went for dinner with a group of Mr. F's friends. Mr. F and I were already pretty exhausted since we'd got back from work rather late but we'd planned to "socialize" and not snooze the weekend away.

Everyone gathered at a common friend's house. They had a baby who had to be put to sleep before we could leave for dinner so the "men" smoked and drank Absolut vodka and Jack Daniels while I thumbed through magazines and pretended to look busy. The only other female was trying to put the baby to sleep in another room. Thankfully, Mr. F does not drink but it was still pretty awkward... and while I'm totally fine when my "western" friends drink, it's quite a shocker when Pakistani-Muslim, Ramadan-fasting, Friday-praying men with hijab-wearing wives and mothers take to the bottle... (yes, I know I have double standards but that's just the way it is... :S).

When the baby finally slept at around 11, we decided to go to The Patio. It's a quaint little place reminiscent of cafes in Islamabad. The aunty who runs the place is also the chef and she came up to the table and explained the menu (Surf n Turf = Shrimp and prawn... lol).

We were served around midnight and I was hard put to keep my eyes open let alone make polite small talk :P. Food was ok... not great and the portions were tiny! Definitely not somewhere I would take family.

I was feeling rather grumpy on the way back so Mr. F offered to get me dessert... Grumpy Gaia + dessert (preferably something with nuts, chocolate and cream) = Happy Gaia.

On Saturday, I did laundry and ironed my work clothes... I find ironing incredibly soothing... or maybe it's just the OCD in me wanting to smooth out all the wrinkles :P

On Sunday, I started making pasta but Mr. F took over and my easy white sauce pasta was transformed into a gourmet dish (with chopped parsley, sautéed mushrooms and the works :)).

Thank you Mr. F... I know I'm not an easy person to live with but you're very very patient.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep,

Robert Frost

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Tax Returns


It's the first time I'll be filing tax returns in Pakistan... except, there are no guidelines and no procedure! I'm supposed to find an "agent" to do it for me :P

I remember the mad rush to do it on 15th April in the US, long lines at the post office and the happy feeling I'd get afterwards :)

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Vent


The problem with having a spouse working in the same organization (same division, same office!) is the awkwardness that comes with it... Plus, Mr. F is 10 levels senior to me so he eventually gets to decide where I end up :-P. Alhamdulilah, it's nice having a husband who takes care of things but I'd much rather have someone else make these decisions... or leave it up to fate :-|. It's also really annoying when we come home and Mr. F goes, "You should have been more assertive during the meeting." (Coming from someone else, it wouldn't have been a big deal but when it's the husband, it just sounds wrong!!! You're NOT by boss!)

Much to my consternation, I am rapidly turning into that woman (the nagging, controlling, loud-mouthed desi wife :().
10:00 pm: Husband dear, we need to get the air-conditioning fixed (Mr. F nods in agreement)
Midnight: And we need to collect the sofa cushions from Bella Interiors tomorrow (Mr. F doesn't bother replying)
6:00 am: Aunty H was asking about dinner this Saturday? Should I say yes? (Mr. F replies with a non-committal grunt and turns over, Gaia fuming)
8:00 am: Mr. F trying to be cute and cuddly. Gaia... fuming (Mr. F baffled... makes Gaia want to laugh but she controls herself and continues with the silent treatment)
8:05 am: tears trickling down Gaia's cheeks... picture of abject misery (I do this rather well... :P but save it for special occasions).
8:07 am: Mr. F capitulates... (sort of). Promises to take care of everything... happy couple :)
9:00 pm: Husband dear, we need to get the ac fixed... grunt,

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Case Studies


1. Husband watches tv all evening and ignores wifey. When the electricity goes (hence, no more tv), husband shows up and acts all sweet, attentive and sappy. How should wifey react? Should she welcome husband with open arms and a beaming smile or put on headphones, jack up the volume and pretend not to notice??

2. Wifey makes brownies. Husband can smell them and they smell good! But, husband makes it a point to say brownies are unhealthy doses of unadulterated sugar and fat and wifey should eat healthy food. Husband asks for brownie. How should wifey react? Should she serve him brownie with chocolate sauce and a loving glance or retort " brownies are unhealthy doses of unadulterated sugar and fat and husband should eat healthy food"


Monday, October 4, 2010

It Comes Out So Wrong


I'm one of those people who can't handle emotions... Back in 2004, when I was leaving home to start college, I spent an entire week being rude to my mom because I couldn't figure out how to let her know how much I'd miss her... Of course, I was engulfed by remorse the minute she left and spent the next 2 months feeling guilty but thankfully mommy dearest understood.

Now, each time Mr. F has to travel somewhere, I spend the day before sulking and generally being mean and the moment he leaves, I feel ultra-remorseful :-(

Bad, bad Gaia...

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Newly-wed Bliss?

I don't pretend to be on expert on marital relationships but here's what I've learnt so far:

One thing I've realized early on in my marriage is the need to reaffirm my commitment to my husband... every day! The spiritual aspect to marriage is rather helpful in this regard. It's easy to be mean and selfish especially when one is feeling neglected or lonely, resentful or "used" but, at the end of the day if I can go to sleep with a clear conscience, it's well worth the effort. When situations become... *ahem* challenging and I'm yearning for home comforts, it helps to remember that God is always with me and ultimately, I am in control of my happiness... no one can change who I am and it's my choice to be happy or to be miserable.

As trivial as it may sound, dear husband and I come from completely different backgrounds... Case in point: I love Akon; Mr. F listens to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pTxZy32Fv_0 :)
But, I'm not going to give up listening to Akon or expect him to listen to him for my sake... I like some me time, when I can be care-free, young Gaia and not be a married aunty.

It also helps to remember and praise the good qualities and ignore the annoying habits of the spouse... after all, he probably ignores a bunch of annoying habits that I have (like scraping his car every now and then and having my hair stuck in the carpet... gross, I know :-P)

Take care of your health. When you're working, traveling, doing the groceries and laundry and testing your emotional boundaries each day, it's easy to succumb to tummy aches and headaches and influenza... A strong immune system and a bit of energy and vitality can work wonders and help you get through the day.
(P.S. Mommy dearest is no longer there to cajole you into taking your medicine and bring you warm milk in bed...)

In an argument, hold your peace... Silence and a hurt look is often as effective as loud, angry words (sometimes, even more) and you'll have the added satisfaction of having kept your dignity. Discuss the issue when both people are more relaxed (preferably after a good dinner and some lovey dovey-ness).

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

New Phone


My husband bought me the new Nokia E5... Most people would be thrilled, excitedly figuring out the new gadget, pressing buttons, clicking pictures with the 5Mp camera but not I. I left my phone in its original packaging for an entire week until Mr. F returned from Colombo, inserted the battery, charged the phone and gave me a phone tutorial. I now have a bugle alarm that goes off at 5:15am every morning (Fajr time), becoming progressively louder until I'm ready to throw something :-P.

My old phone was an 8-year old legacy from my father; a Motorola which we'd received free with our first Mobilink package. It was sturdy and simple... archaic but dependable even though I had to press down the buttons really hard to type a text message.

I guess new relationships are like that... as awful as it sounds, I sometimes find myself prioritizing my new family over my old. In some ways, my parents who raised me so lovingly have now taken a back seat and the new person in my life has taken over my world. I feel guilty and selfish but I hope I am inshalah able to make it up to them some day... maybe when my own kids will become the light of their lives in their old age?

The other day I was talking to another recently-married girl and she said something that struck a chord, "After marriage, you grow up in one night"... In many ways, I was more independent than a lot of other girls even before I got married but for the past year since returning to Pakistan, I'd gotten used to having my meals prepared by my mom, having my sister chatter about her day at school while I lazed around after coming home from work, having dad drop me off to work in the mornings and pick me up after work, having my brother get me chocolate brownies from Pie in the Sky just because I felt like eating something chocolatey....

Now, I make my own breakfast, do the groceries, get my own brownies and am often alone in the evenings when Mr. F has to stay late at work... sigh

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Gratitude


This is a picture of my mom before she got married holding my baby cousin. She was trying to make the baby jealous by kissing the teddy bear but cousin dear was too busy concentrating on the camera :)

I haven't done this in a while, so here goes:


Thank You God for the world so sweet,
Thank You God for the food we eat,
Thank You God for the birds that sing,
Thank You God for everything!


And thank you most of all for a wonderful, supportive, loving family...

Amen




Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Whirlwind Weekend


On Friday evening, Mr. F and I left work at 5:30 pm to catch the 7 pm flight to Lahore... Luckily for us, there was minimal traffic after the attack on the politician, so we made it to the check-in counter in good time. Landed in Lahore at 8:45 pm, arrived at the family home at 9 and got ready in 20 minutes for Mr. F's friend's Mehndi (complete with heavy eye-makeup and bling jewelry!).

Next morning, I made kheer and zarda... my initiation into household duties. FYI, I don't even like zarda and my mom's never made it, so I wasn't quite sure what "good" zarda was supposed to taste like. Luckily, I'd practiced in advance and my jithanis helped me out, so both the dishes turned out ok (thank you google :-)).

On Sunday morning, Mr. F and I drove to Islamabad for his friend's afternoon Barat. We left at 9:00 am and drove non-stop on GT Road. GT Road or Grand Trunk Road is one of South Asia's oldest roads and connects all the major cities in India and Pakistan. It was built by Sher Shah Suri who designed it in a way that at no point during the drive was the sun directly in our eyes. I wonder what Mrs. Sher Shah Suri was like...

We drove through Gujranwala and passed by factories, fields and orchards... Gujranwala is a dirty little industrial town with an abundance of bananas and donkeys. The rice fields looked beautiful and orange trees were blossoming... lovely!

We reached the hotel at 2:00 pm only to learn that the groom was stuck at a toll gate! So Mr. F and I waited in the hotel lobby for 30 mins until the barat finally walked in. The wedding was segregated, so I sat by myself trying to look busy and then called a couple of friends to catch up... Sadly, none of them answered so I continued talking on the phone, having a pretend conversation :-( (yes, I know it sounds pathetic but that was my only resort in a roomful of aunties speaking a language I don't understand).

Next morning, I had my US visa interview. The officer asked me if I "was putting my education to good use" and that was it! She didn't look at any of my documents! Hopefully, inshalah I'll get it soon... Mr. F got me pizza from Rahat bakery and then we drove back to Lahore, this time on the National Highway listening to bollywood soundtracks :p. Later that evening, I boarded a flight to Karachi, Mr. F hopped on a plane to Colombo and so ended my eventful weekend...






Thursday, September 16, 2010

Farewell

My boss is leaving... He'll be moving to ADNOC (Abu Dhabi) next week and I'll be the new section head (just kidding :p). Everyone looked wistful when he made the announcement... almost like a prisoner heading for freedom with the other inmates yearning for their chance to walk out :-p

I'm trying to get my act together and apply to graduate programs for next year. The problem is, I'm just *too* lazy... sigh... Plus, I don't want to risk my entire life savings on grad school and then be a penniless housewife dependent on the husband for pin-money...

I've also realized that people will never be happy. When I was single, everyone was on my case to get me married... Now that I'm married, everyone (except a select few) is concerned about my career and further education plans, not to mention babies and other big-people stuff.

Anyway, beware of conjunctivitis... it's going around and I'm seeing lots of people around me with sunglasses... wash your hands with anti-bacterial soap and don't rub your eyes too much.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Commencement Speech 2010

Editor's note: These remarks are from Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos commencement speech to Princeton's Class of 2010, delivered on May 30, 2010.
As a kid, I spent my summers with my grandparents on their ranch in Texas. I helped fix windmills, vaccinate cattle, and do other chores. We also watched soap operas every afternoon, especially "Days of our Lives." My grandparents belonged to a Caravan Club, a group of Airstream trailer owners who travel together around the U.S. and Canada. And every few summers, we'd join the caravan. We'd hitch up the Airstream trailer to my grandfather's car, and off we'd go, in a line with 300 other Airstream adventurers. I loved and worshipped my grandparents and I really looked forward to these trips. On one particular trip, I was about 10 years old. I was rolling around in the big bench seat in the back of the car. My grandfather was driving. And my grandmother had the passenger seat. She smoked throughout these trips, and I hated the smell.
At that age, I'd take any excuse to make estimates and do minor arithmetic. I'd calculate our gas mileage -- figure out useless statistics on things like grocery spending. I'd been hearing an ad campaign about smoking. I can't remember the details, but basically the ad said, every puff of a cigarette takes some number of minutes off of your life: I think it might have been two minutes per puff. At any rate, I decided to do the math for my grandmother. I estimated the number of cigarettes per days, estimated the number of puffs per cigarette and so on. When I was satisfied that I'd come up with a reasonable number, I poked my head into the front of the car, tapped my grandmother on the shoulder, and proudly proclaimed, "At two minutes per puff, you've taken nine years off your life!"
I have a vivid memory of what happened, and it was not what I expected. I expected to be applauded for my cleverness and arithmetic skills. "Jeff, you're so smart. You had to have made some tricky estimates, figure out the number of minutes in a year and do some division." That's not what happened. Instead, my grandmother burst into tears. I sat in the backseat and did not know what to do. While my grandmother sat crying, my grandfather, who had been driving in silence, pulled over onto the shoulder of the highway. He got out of the car and came around and opened my door and waited for me to follow. Was I in trouble? My grandfather was a highly intelligent, quiet man. He had never said a harsh word to me, and maybe this was to be the first time? Or maybe he would ask that I get back in the car and apologize to my grandmother. I had no experience in this realm with my grandparents and no way to gauge what the consequences might be. We stopped beside the trailer.
My grandfather looked at me, and after a bit of silence, he gently and calmly said, "Jeff, one day you'll understand that it's harder to be kind than clever."
What I want to talk to you about today is the difference between gifts and choices. Cleverness is a gift, kindness is a choice. Gifts are easy -- they're given after all. Choices can be hard. You can seduce yourself with your gifts if you're not careful, and if you do, it'll probably be to the detriment of your choices.
This is a group with many gifts. I'm sure one of your gifts is the gift of a smart and capable brain. I'm confident that's the case because admission is competitive and if there weren't some signs that you're clever, the dean of admission wouldn't have let you in.
Your smarts will come in handy because you will travel in a land of marvels. We humans -- plodding as we are -- will astonish ourselves. We'll invent ways to generate clean energy and a lot of it. Atom by atom, we'll assemble tiny machines that will enter cell walls and make repairs. This month comes the extraordinary but also inevitable news that we've synthesized life. In the coming years, we'll not only synthesize it, but we'll engineer it to specifications. I believe you'll even see us understand the human brain. Jules Verne, Mark Twain, Galileo, Newton -- all the curious from the ages would have wanted to be alive most of all right now. As a civilization, we will have so many gifts, just as you as individuals have so many individual gifts as you sit before me.
How will you use these gifts? And will you take pride in your gifts or pride in your choices?
I got the idea to start Amazon 16 years ago. I came across the fact that Web usage was growing at 2,300 percent per year. I'd never seen or heard of anything that grew that fast, and the idea of building an online bookstore with millions of titles -- something that simply couldn't exist in the physical world -- was very exciting to me. I had just turned 30 years old, and I'd been married for a year. I told my wife MacKenzie that I wanted to quit my job and go do this crazy thing that probably wouldn't work since most startups don't, and I wasn't sure what would happen after that. MacKenzie (also a Princeton grad and sitting here in the second row) told me I should go for it. As a young boy, I'd been a garage inventor. I'd invented an automatic gate closer out of cement-filled tires, a solar cooker that didn't work very well out of an umbrella and tinfoil, baking-pan alarms to entrap my siblings. I'd always wanted to be an inventor, and she wanted me to follow my passion.
I was working at a financial firm in New York City with a bunch of very smart people, and I had a brilliant boss that I much admired. I went to my boss and told him I wanted to start a company selling books on the Internet. He took me on a long walk in Central Park, listened carefully to me, and finally said, "That sounds like a really good idea, but it would be an even better idea for someone who didn't already have a good job." That logic made some sense to me, and he convinced me to think about it for 48 hours before making a final decision. Seen in that light, it really was a difficult choice, but ultimately, I decided I had to give it a shot. I didn't think I'd regret trying and failing. And I suspected I would always be haunted by a decision to not try at all. After much consideration, I took the less safe path to follow my passion, and I'm proud of that choice.
Tomorrow, in a very real sense, your life -- the life you author from scratch on your own -- begins.
How will you use your gifts? What choices will you make?
Will inertia be your guide, or will you follow your passions?
Will you follow dogma, or will you be original?
Will you choose a life of ease, or a life of service and adventure?
Will you wilt under criticism, or will you follow your convictions?
Will you bluff it out when you're wrong, or will you apologize?
Will you guard your heart against rejection, or will you act when you fall in love?
Will you play it safe, or will you be a little bit swashbuckling?
When it's tough, will you give up, or will you be relentless?
Will you be a cynic, or will you be a builder?
Will you be clever at the expense of others, or will you be kind?
I will hazard a prediction. When you are 80 years old, and in a quiet moment of reflection narrating for only yourself the most personal version of your life story, the telling that will be most compact and meaningful will be the series of choices you have made. In the end, we are our choices. Build yourself a great story. Thank you and good luck!

Since returning to Pakistan and particularly, to Karachi, my outlook on a lot of issues has changed. I realized I've become callous... not necessarily by choice but by circumstance. A few years ago, a picture could reduce me to tears and I wouldn't be able to sleep for days at a time... Over time, I've become inured to the suffering around me... It sounds awful, yes, but to maintain your sanity it's sometimes necessary to just shut your eyes and take a deep breath.

Last night on the way back from the airport, there was firing at Shahrae Faisal... I thought at first they were crackers until I saw people ducking by the roadside and cars speeding up to avoid being targeted... And then, I realized, it's normal, it's a part of life and it no longer bothers me... A person from, say, Copenhagen would probably be traumatized by the incident but Karachiites... we just accept it and move on. Once upon a time, I used to love this quote:

"To love. To be loved. To never forget your own insignificance. To never get used to the unspeakable violence and the vulgar disparity of life around you. To seek joy in the saddest places. To pursue beauty to its lair. To never simplify what is complicated or complicate what is simple. To respect strength, never power. Above all, to watch. To try and understand. To never look away. And never, never, to forget." Arundhati Roy

Now I can't seem to relate to it any more :s

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Lahori Eid


I spent my first Eid in Lahore... Mr. F was super excited and I guess the excitement was contagious :) We landed at 4:45pm but the bijli went and the conveyor belt stopped running so we had to wait a whole hour for our luggage to arrive!

By the time we got home, it was time for iftar so we sat down to break fast with the khandaan (Mashalah, Mr. F has 8 siblings... with wives and kids in tow it's quite a full house). When in Lahore, I'm Gaia chachi (chachi = father's younger brother's wife). As one of my nieces informed me, I'm still quite "new" coz I live in Karachi and we haven't really spent a lot of time together yet... I'll become purani (old) when Mr. F's younger brother gets married and his wife moves in :p.

I'm really not used to kids... when I was little and guests used to come over, I'd hide behind the door so I wouldn't have to meet them :S. My nieces and nephews are quite the opposite and scramble to sit in my lap and ask for hugs and kisses and candy... lol.

On Eid day, all the men dressed up in white boski shalwar kameez and went for namaz (Mr. F looked handsome :))... Meanwhile, I got dressed and went to say salam to mommy-in-law but I was told to go and change since I was looking too "simple". I went and put on lots of gold jewelry, 2 sets of bangles, red lipstick and my bling jora... Also straightened my hair and got a "puff"... I think I looked more Punjabi than Punjabis themselves... Mr. F was rather amused to see his usually somber wife looking like a heroine from some Punjabi movie... He said I needed to put on a few kilos to look the part :P

After a breakfast of murgh-cholay and sheer khorma, Mr. F took me a-visiting... I met quite a diverse selection of Lahoris... mostly though, the ladies talked about clothes and make-up and babies while aunties hastened to give me advice on how to manage the house and the husband. Now that I'm married, I get to sit at the married aunty table (when did that happen :0).

I had gelato at Cosa Nostra Pizzeria, fries at World Fashion Cafe, lunch at Hardees and dinner at Fujiyama (the one in Lahore is wayyyyy better than Karachi's Avari) and yes, I probably put on a couple of pounds :p

If I were to move to Lahore, I think I'd turn into a mem-sahib; eat all day and go to Uzma's and C'est la Vie on weekends... oh and pop mundas :p



Monday, September 6, 2010


Mr. F got me a desktop frame with a picture of himself for my cubicle :P. My boss is grinning from ear to ear (he thinks we should indulge in PDAs at work... heh).

I am now the office "bhabi" (ewwww, I know!). Although I should gracefully accept the fact, it does bother me that my identity is now derived from my husband's... I am now Mrs. F and no longer Ms. Gaia :-S

Inshallah it'll be our two-month anniversary today :) Problem is, I still don't feel married!! It's more like having a boyfriend/roommate... I asked Mr. F and he said it sounds cooler to say, I'm his girlfriend (as opposed to wife :p...)

Yesterday, I was indulging in a bout of nostalgia, remembering a time when the 6th of September was celebrated as a holiday and my brother and I would watch the parade on tv. Sadly, Pakistanis have precious little to celebrate these days...

This Eid, let us resolve
to send what we can
in the form of eidi to those
who are truly in need of it


Saturday, September 4, 2010

Stereo Love

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Tragedy


The Air Blue crash, floods, bomb blasts... Dear God, please grant us respite, I don't think we can take much more of this...

Ameen






Jiss dhaj se koi maqtal main gaya woh shaan salamat rehti hai,
Yeh jaan to aani jaani hai iss jaan ki to koi baat naheen

Faiz Ahmed Faiz


Wednesday, September 1, 2010


Waisay, it seems like everyone I know is getting married this year... 4 close friends, a very dear family friend and another colleague from work... I'll get to wear all my joras :)

Work's been crazy busy but our feasibility study is FINALLY FINISHED!! Hurrah! Stayed at work past midnight on the final day but of course, dear husband was right there with me so it was "perfectly alright"... The colleagues treat me with more respect now even though most of them are older than me.

Eid this year will inshallah be in Lahore... So, how do Lahoris celebrate Eid?

Random funny story from my last trip to Lahore:
Mr. F's family has a custom. When a new bride enters the husband's home for the first time, the husband is given a black pigeon and the wife get a white dove. Mr. F went first and released his pigeon. It fluttered, flapped its wings and flew up into a tree. Then, I released mine and it flew up into the same tree... I think it symbolizes wedded harmony or something along those lines but I'm not quite sure :S



Happy Birthday Mr. F :)

So, it was Mr. F's birthday last Saturday. At first I thought about throwing him a surprise birthday party but then, it's Ramadan and everyone's busy with Taraweeh, plus, I realized I don't really know Mr. F's friends all that well yet...

I gave him his presents at Sehri (a shirt, a sweater and our honeymoon photo album). I'm still not sure if he liked them since they didn't evince much of a reaction... (in my family, we get really, really excited over gifts). Later, we both went to work (on a weekend!). I left early to decorate our apartment with flowers. Mr. F walked in shortly before iftar and didn't even notice them!!!

His excuse: "Ali was blocking my view" hmph! (fyi, Ali is the guy who helps me with the cooking and he's 5'4 while Mr. F is around 6'2). Anyway, we had a mini-iftar at home, then I took Mr. F out for dinner (ok, so he drove us there but I paid :P). We went to Fujiyama for sushi (shudder..!.. but Mr. F enjoys it so :)). The wasabi went to my head but I managed to smile through it despite my watery eyes...

I wore the same dress I'd worn at our engagement coz I'm sentimental like that... Again, he didn't even notice!

Came back, ate birthday cake and watched The Ghost Writer (great movie!).







Friday, August 20, 2010

Past

Sometimes, ignorance is bliss. Bringing up the past, especially when it concerns someone you love can be extremely hurtful...

I never thought I'd be the jealous/possessive type :P Guess it all changes when you get married...

It is pretty unfair though. Pakistani society frowns upon girls having "been around" but if a guy were to have a little "experience" it's considered no big deal... After all, boys will be boys and all that jazz.

A friend who'd been engaged for 3 years recently broke it off. I wonder how completely one can recover after being emotionally attached to a person for so long and move on...

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

New Office


We've moved! To a brand new floor and I have a new cubicle... I've put up a new calendar and displayed rocks from Thar and shells from the beach to "make it my own" :). I also got bright pink post-its... and for no logical reason, looking at them makes me happy.

My boss is sitting in a cubicle 3 feet away from me but thankfully there's a frosted glass partition so he can't see me :p. Mr. F is in the cubicle next to my boss' so I take the extra-long route to the bathroom to avoid passing by him :P. Being married to a co-worker is still pretty awkward... (I thought everyone would become normal after the wedding but apparently our colleagues are starved for gossip).

Currently suffering from EXTREME mood swings! Yesterday, I was bubbly and smiling and the day before that, I couldn't stop the flow of tears... very Bollywood-ish and my poor husband was rather traumatized. I googled my symptoms and it may be post-nuptial depression and no, I'm normally not a hypochondriac :P.

Mom and Dad came to visit me yesterday for the first time since I moved into my new home... it wasn't too awkward but I still felt funny... Mr. F cooked pasta and they were super-impressed... lol.

Hope everyone's Ramadan is going well!

<3



Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Ramadan Mubarak!

Koh Samui from the plane :)

Ramadan Kareem everyone! Hope the month brings many blessings to our families and our country and eases the sufferings of all the sufferers...

My first "married" roza's been ok so far Alhamdulilah. Woke up for Sehri and woke up Mr. F too. I'd made sooji ka halwa specially for him but he didn't even touch it (heart crumbles). Thankfully, I didn't go ahead and make omelettes and parathas too :|... I think I'll let him live off cereal and toast :p

It's the first time I'm experiencing official "Ramadan timings" 7:00am to 2:30pm... I'm trying really really hard to stay alert at work (FYI, no one showed up until 7:45am... Mr. F and I are dorks :p).

I really really really want to go to Austria but Mr. F's been there already. Actually, he's already been to China, S. Africa, Italy, Spain and France and I haven't :'(. Would it be weird/inappropriate if I were to vacation somewhere with my friends instead?
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Although I've Alhamdulilah been happily married for a month now, I still don't feel married. It's more like staying over at my boyfriend's apartment :P.

I think I'm supposed to feel totally in love, can't seem to stay apart, yadda yadda but I connected with Mr. F more during the engagement period (long talks on the phone, random conversations, eagerly waiting for texts...)

Now that we're actually living together, I barely see him (except when I walk past his office). I think I had more company living with roommates in college and in Abu Dhabi :P and at home with my bro and sis...


Wednesday, August 4, 2010


Continuing with the train of thought sparked by a comment on my last post, I'll try to make sense of what I'm doing right now. Yes, inshallah I still plan to go for a Masters... perhaps even a Phd and I definitely want to do something meaningful with my life (inshalah). And thankfully, Mr. F is very supportive (so far :p).

I just need to figure out a way to balance my responsibilities toward my new family without losing sight of my own goals.

Following is a list of donation links, relief resources, organizations and individuals working to support flood victims of Pakistan. This data has been gathered from the media and other public sources.

Besides sending cash through below mentioned charity organizations, we can support by providing following commodities.

* Clothing: Clothes of various sizes, Beddings, Shoes
* Utensils: Jerricans (large plastic cans that hold 20 liters of water or other liquids), Crockery, Buckets
* Toiletries: Tissues, Soaps, Dettol (antibacterial cleaners), Towels
* Food: Rice, Sugar, Flour (Atta), Onions, Potatoes, Cooking oil, Tea, Milk (tetra packs or powder), Safe drinking water, Cooked Food

Medicines:

1. Water purification tablets.
2. Life saving drugs.
3. Vaccines for malaria, cholera, typhoid, influenza.
4. Pain killers including strong ones like morphine derivatives, tremadol, pethadine, kinz .
5. Antibiotics e.g. tetnus, amoxil, gentamycin.
6. IV cannulas
7. IV Drip sets
8. IV drips: normal saline, ringerlactate
9. Local anesthetics (injections)
10. Cotton bandages, cotton.
11. Surgical instruments: e.g needle holders, forceps, tweezers.
12. Suturing materials, Skin staples.

Charity Organizations in Pakistan:

Al-Khidmat Foundation:
Donate here: http://www.facebook.com/l/13074q-JdsREV0A4VOrdx0DGvuA;al-khidmatfoundation.org/donate-here.php


SUNGI:

Pakistan Red Crescent Society:
PRCS has offices in Islamabad, Lahore, Karachi, Peshawar, Quetta and Muzaffarabad. Please see: http://www.facebook.com/l/1307431uOA3Hno2HCPJyb2aAWEQ;www.prcs.org.pk/help.asp


An independent group of students:

The Volunteers/ Voice of the Civil Society:

VOTCS with the help of our Pak Army jawans will be sending Provisions to the affectees. VOTCS is now a registered (No. DSW 3369-K) welfare organization in Pakistan, and is operating as a Non-Profit, Public Charity in the North America, Inc. - 501(C)(3) Organization(Tax Exempted)

HABIB BANK LIMITED ACCOUNT NO IS 1549-79001393-03

For more info call:

Hadia khan@03018245999
Sadia Haroon@03218251122
Irum Farooque@03002332142

International Charity Organizations:



United Nation’s World Food Programme: Donations are tax deductible for number of countries. Donate here: http://www.facebook.com/l/13074r4-Q6wj4FoqZlFC-5CqcLA;https://secure.my-websites.org/supporter/donatenow.do?n=gbss&dfdbid=1044253

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Moti ho ke aana (Gain some weight when you visit next time)


The above advice was given to me by Mr. F's phuppi (paternal aunt) as I was leaving for Karachi. I hastened to tell her that I'm not on a diet and that I love food but she gave me a sly smile and pointed to her ample tummy and mimed a pregnant belly... Understanding dawned... aaaahh... right. So basically, she was trying to tell me (not very subtly) that I should begin procreating asap.

During my 9 days in the lovely city of Lahore, I was asked not less than 6 times when I'm planning to have my first kid... and I was meeting most of these people for the first time :P. The first couple of times, Mr. F chimed in with "jab Allah ki marzi" (whenever God wills) since the wife was dumbfounded... lol.

Another huge cultural difference between Karachi and Lahore is the concept of privacy. In Lahore, it's considered perfectly normal for people (family, guests staying over, servants) to barge into the room of a newly-wed couple at odd times during the day (and night) without knocking or announcing their presence. This can lead to some major awkward moments and poor Mr. F's become paranoid about locking and bolting doors :"P


Monday, August 2, 2010

And the days go by...

I think I'm sort of settling into the routine of married life. Mostly, it's the same as before except I now have a constant roommate :). Waisay, I can honestly say guys are 90% alike unlike us complicated females and they're simple creatures :P.

Even though my husband and I have a pretty large age difference, I don't really feel it... in fact, I sometimes feel older specially when he acts like a 5-year old and has a temper tantrum.

I made banana pancakes for brunch on Saturday and they turned out nice (according to my lowly standards) but Mr. F only had one :'(. Otherwise, we've been attending dawats every day so I don't really have to do anything besides dress up and make small talk with my husband's friends' wives.

Pakistan's been going through a series of crises for the past week and a half... First the Air Blue crash, then, the floods in Khyber Pakhtunkwha and yesterday, the assassination of an MQM leader followed by general violence in Karachi... I fear for this country.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Cooking for the Husband


I've sort of settled into my new home. Yesterday, I drove Mr. F's car to Meat One (rather overrated) and got chicken fillets to cook for dinner (he was staying late at work, so I thought I'd surprise him). I made Crispy Chicken with Lemon Sauce, except, I didn't let the sauce boil and thicken and it was kinda runny and the chicken could've been more tender.

Anyway, I served it with fried rice and chinese noodles (given to me by mommy dearest). Mr. F took a few bites, didn't say anything. Then he got up, took the dish to the kitchen and "modified" it with Stir-fry sauce and chilli sauce and cooked it for a few more minutes. Then he brought it back to the table and bade me try some. It was delicious... :P

So my husband's a gourmet chef and I'm a sandwich and microwave person... this will be interesting.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Honeymooning

Thankfully, I'm still the same person although I dress slightly more formally and wear slightly more make-up than before (let's see how long that lasts :P). It's funny how quickly you get used to being with a new person... I guess living with college roommates really helped since Mr. F and I have both lived with other people and dealt with obnoxious roomies...

We honeymooned in Koh Samui and Bangkok. The island resort was fantastic; a romantic getaway straight out of the movies. I went snorkeling and swallowed a whole lot of seawater trying to stay afloat in my life-jacket while Mr. F tried to impress me with his swimming skills and "save" me. Thai food is delicious although I grew tired of it pretty quickly and ended up going to an Indian restaurant for dinner on our third evening (yes, I am a fob at heart :)). Also did the touristy stuff: sightseeing, picture-taking and getting a massage (Mr. F got one while I went back to the hotel since I didn't think I'd like to stay and watch :P).

It rained for two days straight in Bangkok but we spent most of the time gift-shopping at Siam Paragon. Also, this is random but I saw a whole lot of Siamese cats and then, a light bulb went off *Siamese cats from Siam* lol :). FYI, the local currency is Baht and shopping is affordable though nothing beats American sales... The transport system is pretty cool; they have an airtrain (like the subway but above-ground) and tuk tuks on the ground (like our local rickshaws but with more leg-room).

Mr. F also wanted to go to the night market where they sell copies of brands like Lacoste and Hermes so I tagged along although it was in a sketchy area with lots of night clubs and prostitute houses. They were playing Lady Gaga at the clubs but Mr. didn't let me go inside :P. I bought fake Dior sunglasses :)



Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Wedding


It rained on my wedding day... The drive from the salon to the house and then to the venue was epic... lol. A big thank you to all my lovely aunties for making sure everything went as smoothly as possible despite the downpour and flooded roads and fragile tempers.

I signed the Nikah in the middle of my phot0-shoot... the Maulvi forgot to ask me if my then husband-to-be was acceptable. My now-husband forgot to sign the Nikah form :P and my false eyelashes started coming off half-way through the wedding thanks to the humidity...

Oh and one of the rain-bugs (makoras with wings) got into my clothes... To put it mildly, it was an uncomfortable ride back to the hotel post-rukhsati...

But, in the end, Gaia is happy to be a Mrs. :)

Friday, July 2, 2010

T-5


Last day at work before I leave for my official "shaadi break" (inshalah). I think the general cheesiness is rubbing off on me :P

The girls took me to Chatterbox for lunch... sweet :) It's nice being pampered and baby sis gave me a soothing back massage since Apa dear couldn't sleep... Mom and Dad are pretty stressed... I think they need the pampering more than I do...

Mr. F's gone to Lahore to finalize arrangements... he's so stressed out, I actually feel sorry for him...

I'm hoping and praying it doesn't rain on the wedding day and everything goes smoothly inshalah with minimal stress for my mom. And I hope Mr. F starts being nice to my parents :=(

Thoughts on singlehood (singledom?):

- I loved my life :) traveling, studying abroad, earning, spending and saving my own money, eating what I wanted, sleeping when I felt like and wearing what I was comfortable in...
- I loved the fact that I wasn't answerable to anyone except the daily phone call to my parents

*sigh* ? But I'm happy... I think... lol

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

People Please...


Quit asking me where I'm getting my make-up and hair done from and where we're going on the honeymoon... None o your beeswax :P!

T-7

Party in the house... everyone's happy, smiling, singing, dancing, cracking jokes and I'm just sad...

I still see Mr. F at work every day but it's kinda awkward now... lol. He's acting all shy and avoiding me... haha

My last few single days playlist:





Monday, June 21, 2010

T-16 days... Inshalah


Alhamdulilah, things are ok so far... Hopefully hopefully, inshalah, the next three weeks will go smoothly without anyone suffering nervous breakdowns (and specially not my mom).

My closets are full and I have barely any space to move around in my room thanks to all the boxes piled up...and I really hope people don't give me random wedding presents.

Mr. F is in Amsterdam while poor ol' Gaia is still at work.... grrr.

So, I still don't feel like I'm actually getting married... I mean, my mom still drops me off to work every day :) and I haven't made real food since 2008... All my aunties are super-excited... they've all bought new outfits for each event... it's cute and funny at the same time (it's like, they're re-living their own weddings) :)

My siblings are dancing to Lady Gaga at the Mehndi :O and my mom and khala picked Dancing Queen :O...

Traditional desi in-laws from Punjab may get a shock...!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Last day in Dubai


We got up bright and early (8:30am) and headed to Dubai Mall (I think I know the way to Dubai from Abu Dhabi better than say... the way to Jinnah Terminal, Karachi from my house :P).

I LOVE DUBAI MALL!!! Saw the Burj Khalifa, took lots of pictures and met up with my Princeton roomie who happened to be in Dubai :) (she's a jet-setter consultant, so I was lucky she happened to be in town that weekend). May, Il, Rana and I went to Bloomingdales and got our make-up done by the saleswomen) and took more pictures (we're girly girls when we're all together :)) and then I had Cinnabon (they really need to open a franchise in Pakistan).

Spent the night at Alex's apartment (Al-Ghoslan at the Greens...) and the next day (Sunday morning), I took a taxi to terminal 3.

Meanwhile, mommy dearest had called to let me know that a cyclone was brewing in Karachi and there could be delays. Anyway, I checked in, got my boarding pass and headed towards dutyfree. Flight delayed to 11:00am... no worries, I thought, I don't have to be back at work till Monday and continued browsing through the shops.

Finally boarded the plane. I had a window seat (thanks daddy) blocked by two young men. After exchanging a few awkward glances, we realized we'd been in the same school until O'Levels and then proceeded to exchange our entire life histories. One of them owns a gold shop in Saddar and the other guy was on his way back after completing his undergrad from Australia. He amused me with his experiences managing a gas station in Australia :P

I watched "How to Train Your Dragon" and an hour and a half later, we were in Karachi, the landing gear was down and I could see patches of green and pools of water (courtesy, Cyclone Phet).

But... THE PLANE DIDN'T LAND and we basically swooped really low and circled back up into the air... Our Pakistani brethren had already gotten up to get their luggage from the racks and sat down back in their seats. 15 minutes later, the captain announced that we were heading BACK TO DUBAI because it was too dangerous to land... I mean, :O :O :O?

So, another hour and a half later, we were basically back in Dubai (no food on the flight and the passengers were getting cranky). I felt particularly sorry for the people who had come from Toronto and London and basically waited 2 days for a connecting flight to Karachi... becharay.

Back at the airport, I surfed the internet, spent my last $200 on almonds and chocolate for Mr. F and perfume for mommy. They gave us food at Burger King but I didn't have an appetite... (like, I wanna go home already!). Finally, the flight departed at 11:30pm and I landed in Karachi around 1:20am... So, 3 flights in a day and lots of fatigue... but my ceramic flower pots from IKEA survived the trip :)